A woman who had been overweight for most of her life went on a mission to look "fabulous at 40" - and lost more than 5st in less than a year.
Emma Duffy, of Burnopfield, Newcastle, had always been self-conscious and embarrassed about her weight. She hated looking in the mirror or having pictures taken.
But as she approached her 40th birthday, she decided she wanted to change her life and joined Slimming World.
She cut down on junk food like pizzas, crisps, chocolate and biscuits, and ate more healthily. At the same time, she became more active.
After 11 months, she lost just over 5st 2lbs - dropping from dress size 20 to 12.
At her heaviest, she weighed 16st 4.5lbs and went down to 11st 2lbs. And she has managed to keep off the pounds five years after she went on the weight loss programme.
Emma, 45, said: "I decided to join Slimming World at the age of 39. I was due to turn 40 in the October of 2014 and I defiantly didn’t want to turn 40 feeling bad about my weight.
"I wanted to celebrate being fabulous at 40 so my attentions turned to how I was going to achieve this.
"I knew I couldn’t turn back the clock but I could do something about my size and how I felt about myself. So, with Christmas 2013 behind me, and having been overweight for most of my life, I just wanted to finally conquer my weight problems.
"It was a leaflet that came through the door just after Christmas that inspired me to find out more about the Slimming World group that was just at the end of my street.
"I have to admit I was so nervous and also very embarrassed about entering the community centre but there was certainly no need. I could not have been made to feel more welcome and straight away I knew I had come to the right place."
Emma said that, although her family and friends never judged her, she was very self-conscious about how she looked.
"It was always something that I gave myself a very hard time over as inside I know that I was that size because of me, no-one else," she added.
"I would turn my head the other way if there were mirrors as I did not want to see myself and the reality that I was overweight."
She also hated shopping for clothes.
"I would get so upset with not being able to find anything that looked nice," said Emma. "I definitely wouldn’t come out of the changing room to show anyone what I had tried on.
"The last time I’d worn a dress was my wedding day and it was so traumatic finding one I was even just a little bit happy with, encountering some very unpleasant challenges along the way, which left me feeling that I did not deserve to wear a wedding dress as I was too big. I spent the day avoiding looking at myself and dreaded seeing the wedding photos.
"I would always go for clothes in black as I did not want to stand out and be noticed. I wanted to just blend into the background and hope that no-one would look at me as I felt so embarrassed and ashamed about my size."
Her breakfasts included sugary cereal, biscuits, tea or white toast loaded with butter and jam. Lunch would be a meal deal on the go, with sandwiches, crisps and chocolate or a takeaway burger or chicken.
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In the evenings, she mostly had pre-prepared food like Chinese, Indian or Italian dishes full of sauces. One of her favourites was a 14in 'create your pizza' from a supermarket, with extra toppings.
"Crisps, chocolate and biscuits would feature on a daily basis," said Emma. "I would snack on these between meals and usually a combination of those kinds of things, not just one or another."
Her diet with Slimming World now consists of healthy food with fresh salad, lean meat or fish and pasta or potatoes.
She said: "It's so easy to make lovely fresh health meals with all the foods that you can have on plan. I never buy sauces ready made. If I am cooking something like that, I would make this from scratch knowing exactly what was going into them.
"I still have many of my old favourites, such as burger and chips made from all the ingredients that you can have on plan.
"And I never feel I am missing out on the treats I like as you can still have these by building them into your daily syn allowance."
In addition, Emma has become more active and often walks for several miles around the village.
She added: "I feel so much more confident, healthier and happy about me.
"Losing the weight in just 11 months was amazing but to still have kept it off nearly five years later makes me feel fabulous about what I have achieved. And the fear of mirrors has gone."
Emma has now taken up the chance to become a Slimming World consultant herself and will start running sessions on Mondays from December 30, 5pm to 7pm, at Syke Road, in Burnopfield. For more details, ring 07540334661.